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The V and A Dundee is delighted to already be making concrete relationships with other creative partners within the City of Dundee and we are very excited at our latest link that sees us led to us agreeing to loan one of our more fascinating exhibits from our Science and Invention vaults to the Teacher Education department at the University of Dundee.

When we were approached to see if there was any way that we could support the University's new 3rd year module that was looking at Developing Effective Teaching and Learning we were initially a little unsure of what we could do to assist however after speaking with the Derek Robertson, the module leader, we managed to get a grasp on what is meant by Interdisciplinary Learning in Curriculum for Excellence and from there a plan was hatched. We listened to what was planned to be the narrative thread running through the module and after much consideration we came up with an exhibit that we thought would fit the bill. The Isolator: An Enhanced Cognition Machine designed in 1925 by Hugo Gernsback was something that we felt would become a focal point for the learning and so we have agreed to loan this for a short period to the University so that it can help create the context from which the learning can be developed.

The Mohammed Family, DD5 by Ross Fraser McLean

Hugo Gernsback was an early pioneer in exploring and researching just how technology could be used to increase and maximise the power of the human brain. The Isolator, otherwise know as the Enhanced Cognition machine, is reputed to be his finest work with his primitive but impressive 'brain diodes' an early example of technology enhanced intelligence.

Flora, Grace, Cathy and Sooz at Living Room launch

Gernsback believed that isolating the human brain from all external noise and distraction within an enclosed environment of pressurised oxygen would enable heightened brain activity. His 'brain diodes' were designed to conduct what he believed would be powerful brain waves that were stimulated by the conditions within the Isolator. It is recognised that this amazing yet primitive design did allow thought waves to be transmitted beyond the helmet via an electronic feed.

The Isolator

Gernsback mothballed his invention after he suffered 'interesting' side-effects after being injured when the pressurised oxygen levels went above the maximum level due to a fault in his oxygen cylinder. Although he was comatosed for two weeks he woke to find himself with enhanced brain power and memory functioning for a period of three weeks prior to returning to his normal level of cognitive functioning. Within these three weeks he learned to speak fluent Spanish, studied and passed the first three years of a Mathematics degree at Harvard and voraciously completed crosswords from every American newspaper every day for these three weeks. An incredible and yet largely unknown episode from early days of technology enhanced brain exploration

We understand that the intention is to unveil the Isolator at the introductory lecture for this new module at 9:00am on Tuesday 16th September 2014. We are very much looking forward to hearing how the loan of this relatively valuable and rare exhibit (that is still in working order) from our collection will help enhance and enrich the learning experience of the students at the University of Dundee and we are sure that they will look after it.

We hope that the students will share their experiences on this new module at the University with us and everyone else by using the #UoDedu hashtag


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